30 “Now when forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight; and as he approached to look, there came the voice of the Lord: 32 ‘I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look. 33 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Come now, I will send you to Egypt.’
Have you ever prayed for something, and it just wasn’t happening? Over and over, you lift your voice to God, hoping for some kind of a response, some kind of an intervention in your situation, and God’s response is…nothing. Silence.
Maybe you come to this Lent having experienced that a lot. Maybe you come to this Lent with your patience for prayer feeling worn and threadbare.
I’m struck by the fact that in this passage, God says: “I have surely seen the mistreatment of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them.” So here, God is clearly listening. And yet, God seems to choose NOT to appear to any one of Moses’ people living under slavery in Egypt. Instead, God chooses to appear to an Israelite in exile, a man living many days’ journey away in the Arabian peninsula.
What does this tell me about prayer?
Well, first it says that your prayers that seem to be falling on deaf ears are most certainly not. God hears our groaning. Our Creator hears when we are mistreated and hurting.
Second, it makes me wonder…what if our assessment, that God is NOT responding, is entirely wrong? If you think about the people of Israel, they had NO IDEA that hundreds of miles away, God was speaking to a man through a burning bush, inviting him to come be part of the plan to liberate them. God was at work, they just couldn’t see it.
Today, don’t despair if it seems your prayer is not being heard. Have faith that it is. And have faith to embrace the idea that the answers to prayers often don’t take the form we would expect. They usually come from places and involve people we don’t expect. And they frequently unfold in ways that we never could have imagined.
When Israel despaired that their prayers were in vain, God called Moses. What might God be preparing for you? This Lent, don’t give up on prayer. God is listening!
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Do you know someone who is struggling with unanswered prayer? Can you share this thought with them? Take some time today to call and check in.
Prayer: Holy God, there are times I feel distant from you. There are times it feels like you haven’t heard my pain. Today, please grant me the grace of trusting you in the silence. Bless me with your peace. And remind me that you are listening. Amen.